Lube is pretty fantastic. The first time folks try it can often be revolutionary. Like, “OMG sex just got so much better!”
4 Lube Fouls (and How to Have Hot, Fun, Slippery Sex)
Sure, it can be a little messy and it sure is disappointing when you reach over and find an empty bottle on your nightside table, but the following mistakes are the biggest problems we have with lube.
Check out these three common errors we make with lube (and one piece of common sense).
1. Not Offering or Asking for Lube
Let’s admit it: we’ve still got a lot of lingering issues around sex in our society. Unfortunately, this is not surprising given the debate over sex education, the stigmas associated with different kinds of sex, and the continual discouraging of even talking about sex openly.
In some ways, sex in society is moving in the right direction... but we’re not there yet.
Lube is a perfect example of the challenges that a suppressed sexual society faces. Adding lube to a sexual situation should be an easy thing. “Can I have some lube?” “Do you want some lube?” These are pretty innocuous questions that can make all the difference! But, many folks are still learning to request or suggest adding some slippery to their sexy.
Why the hold up?
Well, there’s the perception of sexual dysfunction. If you’re not wet enough, it must mean you’re not turned on—even though your brain and body say otherwise!
Getting to know your body, how it reacts, and what you need for the best sexual experiences is paramount. Whether someone is playing with your self-lubricating bits, such as your vulva or vagina, or non-self-lubricating stuff, like your clitoris, penis or anus, different circumstances require different amounts of lubrication. There is never anything wrong with needing a little extra slip and slide to any type of play!
There’s also the problem of lack of sex education. If your partner isn’t getting wet, it doesn’t mean try harder at what you’re doing. Our bodies react in different ways, and we can’t even count on consistency.
A better tact is to ask if what you’re doing is okay or if you could do something differently, including offering lube. The simple response could be “Yes, but please use some lube.” Now, that seems quite easy when you read it here, right? But we’ve all been in sexual situations where we feel a little awkward and insecure. However, you and your partners owe it to each other to put these words on your lips whenever they are needed.
2. One Lube for All Needs
Hopefully this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, but here it goes: not everyone has sex the same way.
Shocking, I know!
Or, really, not shocking at all. Of course we have sex in lots of different ways, that’s just one of the great things about sex! People are touching, licking, stroking, inserting, massaging and hurting each other in countless different ways, and no one lube out there is going to fulfill all of your wet and wild needs.
There are a few main lube formulations and these different offerings all have advantages and disadvantages, depending on what you want to use them for. Here’s the rub:
Water-based lubricants, like Wet Water-Based Premium Lubricant, are very versatile, can be used in any kind of sexual play, feel great on the skin, are easy to clean up and are safe to use with latex condoms. However, water-based lubricant does have a tendency to dry out during longer sessions and will immediately wash off if used for shower sex.
Silicone-based lubricants, like Wet Platinum, are more concentrated, long-lasting, often requiring just a few drops. They can be used with latex condoms, in/around water and are great for anal sex. However, silicone-based lubricant cannot be used with silicone sex toys, as they will degrade the silicone in the toy. Silicone-based lubricants can also be a little more messy to clean up.
Oil-based lubricants are also long-lasting, work well with water and anal sex, and can moisturize your skin while you use it for sex. However, oil-based lubricant should not be used with latex condoms as it will degrade the latex, making the condom ineffective!
These are the lube basics, but you will find a much wider variety of specialty lubes also available. If you’d like to mix things up a bit, you can also find hybrid lubes, like Wet Elite Hybrid Lubricant, lube for sensitive skin, lube infused with hemp extract, CBD and many more.
3. All Lube Is Created Equal
On the surface (and going in deep) adding lube to sex play is a great idea. However, let’s remember that we are talking about foreign substances on our skin and in our body, and that means we all need to be aware of the ingredients of your lube of choice.
As we’ve learned in many different industries, the ingredients of products may seem fine at first, but bigger problems, for some users, can surface later on. The lube industry continues to learn about lube ingredients that may affect some people.
Please note the use of the word “some.” Many problematic lube ingredients are fine for some folks, but cause issues for others. It is important, as you shop and discover new lubes for your tickle trunk, that you keep track of issues you experience, try to isolate those concerns and associate them with particular ingredients.
Here’s a quick rundown of potentially problematic lube ingredients and what they might cause:
Glycerin: A metabolic byproduct of sugar and a potential food source for microbes. This can result in an overabundance of yeast and yeast infections. That said, don't assume that just because there's glycerin in a lube, it's a no go. Many people with penises like the feel of glycerin lubes for masturbation, and they present no risk in this case. Plus, flavored lubes like Wet's Warming Desserts line of lubes uses glycerin to enhance the delicious flavors.
Parabens: A preservative that may be an endocrine disruptor. On the surface, it can cause a rash. It may also affect people’s hormones and research has begun as to whether parabens might cause fertility issues and increase the chance of developing breast cancer.
Chlorhexidine gluconate: A disinfectant chemical that can be rough on your body. It can cause inflammation or irritation and can also kill off lactobacillus, a good vaginal bacteria.
Nonoxynol-9: A spermicide that is more powerful than just an anti-pregnancy measure. Nonoxynol-9 can also eliminate good and bad bacteria in the vagina, throwing off your natural balance and potentially causing infections, such as bacterial vaginosis.
Beyond these lube ingredients, it should also be noted that some other common substances are also not good lube choices. Vaseline and baby oil were never meant to be used internally and can linger in your body causing issues.
Food is also a tricky. Most food will contain sugars that can cause yeast issues. Natural oils can work, but definitely not with latex condoms. Be wary of poorly made, flavored and scented lubes and massage oils.
Let’s get in the habit of reading labels and doing research—for ourselves and our partners—even in the heat of the moment.
4. Lube Always Feels Good
No, no it doesn’t. Even if you’ve done your research, picked your favorite type and have enjoyed lots of positive lube talk with your partner... warm that stuff up before you put it on your partner’s sexy bits!
Don’t just grab it from the nightstand and spread it all over. Take it from a Canadian who endures long, cold winter nights. Tuck the bottle somewhere warm for a while first, roll the lube around in your hands, blow on it. Anything to lessen that frigid first touch.
Jon Pressick is a sex-related media gadabout. For more than 20 years, Jon has been putting sex into our daily conversations at his long-running site SexInWords—as a writer, editor, publisher, sex toy reviewer, radio host, workshop facilitator, event producer and more. These days, he focuses on writing for Kinkly, GetMeGiddy, The Buzz and PinkPlayMags and editing Jason Armstrong's series of Solosexual books. You can find him on Twitter at @Sexinwords.